The election is almost over — and hopefully we can reclaim the ad space for something besides the annoying political ads. Iowa’s Senator Tom Harkin is retiring — after 40 years in the Senate — so the battle has been raging to claim the seat.
From mid-September to mid-October, nearly 30,000 ads were aired on television. In that time period, the Des Moines Register reported that over $13.9 million was spent trying to woo the state’s 1.9 million registered voters. An additional $13.8 million was spent in the five weeks prior to that. Before it’s over, there will be nearly 60,000 television ads in Iowa just for the Senate campaign. Ugh.
What is even more disturbing is that a majority of the ads are paid for by outside sponsors rather than the candidates themselves. Political action groups, the parties, and super-PACs have polluted the airwaves with radical messages and slams of the their opponent.
It is also interesting to me that spending continues to escalate even though early absentee voter turnout has set records. Over 370,000 Iowans have already cast their ballots — making the ads even more annoying and pointless for them.
After all this negativity and outside influence, I find it hard to believe that the winner will be magnanimous and easily reach across the aisle to cooperate. Our political system sets itself up for rancor and divisiveness before candidate is even elected.
I think everyone could take lessons from a local county supervisor race. Two Democratic supervisors endorsed the incumbent Republican supervisor who is up for re-election. They were chastised by their party for doing so, but continue to speak openly about their support. It is refreshing to hear a message about the best person for the job, regardless of party or PAC affiliation.
No matter where you live — but especially if it is in Iowa — I hope you exercise your right to vote today, and that you vote for who you believe is best, not just who had the best hype.
Source: Senate race TV spending doubles in Iowa, by Jason Noble and Jeffrey C. Kummer, The Des Moines Register, October 26, 2014, desmoinesregister.com
Iowa Dems may hold thin edge in early voting by Jason Noble, The Des Moines Register, October 31, 2014, desmoninesregister.com